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How Risky is Online Sexting by Minors?

NCJ Number
Journal of Child Sexual Abuse Volume: 33 Issue: 2 Dated: Mar 2024 Pages: 169-182
Date Published
March 2024
14 pages

This paper provides a risk assessment of online sexting by minors.


In this study, researchers assessed what proportion of minors who engage in sexting find themselves involved in an episode of image abuse. The data come from a US nationally representative sample of 2639 respondents aged 18–28 reporting about experiences before the age of 18, of whom 23% had engaged in sexting as minors. Among those who sexted the rate of image abuse was 37%, a risk ratio of 13.2 compared to those who did not engage in sexting. For females who sexted the victimization rate was particularly high, but sexting increased risk for females and males. Among the minors who only sexted occasionally (vs those who sexted frequently) the rate of abuse was still high (35%) and the reduction in risk modest. When researchers controlled for other background and demographic risk factors like adversities and prior sexual abuse, it did not substantially reduce the large risk entailed with sexting. Various harm reduction strategies may be needed to supplement messages about dangers and risks. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: March 1, 2024